At the beginning of the new year I plummeted into bridal panic mode realizing all of the things I still needed to do for the wedding. Since becoming engaged over a year ago, we’ve already booked the venues, the caterer, the entertainment, and I’ve chosen my dress, flowers, and invitation are under way so we’ve pretty much been coasting with wedding planning. Now it’s time to start making things happen and bringing it all together! One of the ‘to-do’s’ we hadn’t quite committed to yet was our rehearsal dinner.
We knew we wanted the dinner to be close to the church where the rehearsal will take place. This is in a smaller town, so while there are several wonderful options, the choices of what to eat and where to go are still limited. We considered having everyone drive approximately 20-30 minutes away to where more restaurants are, then it hit us – one of our favorite places of all time is in the town right next door! Less than 5 minutes away! We almost overlooked them because they typically won’t take reservations, and they’re a smaller sized establishment. (We’d come close to taking over the place!)
The restaurant is called Chinn Chinn and they’re a mom & pop style Asian Bistro. I wouldn’t dare call the food ‘Chinese’ as it doesn’t even begin to compare to any other typical Chinese restaurant I’ve ever eat at. It’s not a buffet, and this is the kind of place that if you want to order takeout for dinner, you’d better call in your order at noon! If you want to eat at the restaurant, then be prepared for about an hour wait! Remember, this is in a small town area and the waits are fairly long. IT’S THAT GOOD! Nick and I are completely addicted and typically stop by once a week. If not, we go though what we call our “Chinn Chinn withdrawals!” We’re spice addicts, so whenever we call in our order and tell them ‘Kung Pow at a level 35 hotness” they immediately know the rest of what we’re going to order, and who’s on the phone ordering it!
After speaking with the staff about rehearsal dinner options, we learned they cater and will set up and tear down. We’ve decided to host the location at the church. This way, no one in our wedding party will have to drive back and forth! Plus, the dinner options for catering were what we felt were a better value than dining in the restaurant.
For $11.50 per guest we’re offered two entre choices for a family style dinner. This includes rice, cold noodles, and a side. Considering one of the entrees we choose is normally around $18 per plate in the restaurant, it seems like such a steal! Plus, for $1 extra person pop (aka, ‘soda’), and place settings are included. Chinn Chinn charges a $40 delivery fee which includes setup and use of their returnable containers AND to top off their great service, they offered to add as single service portions our super spicy dishes (We know the rest of our guest won’t touch the heat we like to eat!). Our church where we will be hosting the dinner charges a $100 rental fee, which includes a $50 refundable deposit. Nick’s mom has generously offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner food costs for us.
We plan on inviting roughly 30 people to the dinner. That number includes our wedding party and their significant others, our parents, and a few out of town guests that we want to be able to spend a little extra time with. Here’s our cost breakdown for the rehearsal dinner:
$11.95 dinner charge x 30 people = $358.50
$10 invitations & postage (Making myself using my Silhouette cutter & leftover wedding invitation paper)
$1.00 beverage & service ware fee x 30 people = $30
$40 Delivery Fee
$50 Church Rental Fee (after deposit reimbursement)
Total: $488.50 (Or, $16.28 per guest-about a $2/guest savings from eating in the restaurant!).
As far as a rehearsal dinner outfit, I splurged this past summer on a gorgeous dress while in Georgetown. Our friend we were visiting wanted to introduce us to the owners of the shop, Everards. I must say, this was one of the greatest shopping experiences I have ever had, the owners were fantastic! After trying on a purple Sara Campbell dress, I had to have it! Since Nick and I had plans to go on a cruise the following month, I knew I could wear it on that trip and for the rehearsal dinner. I also ended up wearing the dress for our engagement photos so I feel I’ve gotten my money’s worth.
When planning your rehearsal dinner, there are a few other things to keep in mind. I intend to send out invitations to guests, especially out of town guests who are not part of the wedding party to let them know they are invited to the dinner. While I plan on making the invites myself, there still will be extra costs involved. I’m budgeting about $10 on the invites, with postage (Again, I’m using wedding invite paper leftovers).
The bridal party gift exchange can also take place at your rehearsal dinner as well as gifts to your parents and others whom you wish to thank. We have the gift costs set aside as part of our wedding budget. Toasts are also common and can come from either the parents, or yourselves.
Since everyone will be in the same room before the wedding, we also plan to add a last minute refresher for the next day’s schedule for parents and the bridal party. I’m in the process of creating schedules for both the maid’s and the groommen in order to help the wedding day go smoothly. Not bridezilla style by any means, but just a run down of our time management for the day as a guide. It’s going to be a busy day with decorating and hair & makeup so we want to make sure we’re able to fit everything in that’s needed. Both the bridesmaids group and the groomsmens group will be making stops in the morning at the reception hall to decorate and set up and we want to avoid having our paths cross and Nick or I seeing each other before the wedding.
Editor’s note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more pandemic wedding resources here.